Pronunciation of English Loanwords in Spanish

Quick Answer

A loanword (préstamo lingüístico) is a word that is taken from one language and used by another, often with adaptations. In this article, we’ll discuss loanwords that Spanish has taken from English, such as rock(rock), hockey(hockey), and software(software).

Loanwords in Spanish

English is infamous for its use of loanwords, but did you know that there are loanwords in Spanish too? In this article, we’ll review some of the words that Spanish takes from English and how these words are pronounced.

Much to the Real Academia Española’s (Royal Spanish Academy) chagrin, Spanish has adopted quite a few anglicismos(anglicisms) or loanwords from English. Although organizations like the Fundación del Español Urgente(Foundation of Emerging Spanish)—often shortened to Fundéu—suggest Spanish alternatives for anglicisms, many native speakers of the language ignore these suggestions. For example, on Valentine’s Day, the Fundéu offered multiple Spanish words to use instead of the popular anglicism single.

The Pronunciation Changes!

It’s important to remember that these loanwords are NOT pronounced the same way in Spanish as they are in English. Remember that, in Spanish, each letter equals one sound. Thus, when pronouncing these English loanwords, Spanish speakers essentially pronounce them as if they were written in Spanish. For example, the word spray(spray) is pronounced by adding an “e” sound at the beginning, facilitating its pronunciation. Spanish speakers use the closest sound that Spanish has to the English original. Some words hardly change, while others may become unrecognizable to the English monolingual ear.

English Loanwords in Spanish

Spanish has taken loanwords from English in numerous fields; however, they seem to be most common in the fields of music and entertainment, sports, technology, fashion, and business and finance. Let’s look at some general loanwords taken from English. Be sure to listen to how each loanword is pronounced in Spanish.

Loanword in SpanishEnglishSpanish Alternative
airbag
airbag
bolsa de aire
campus
campus
ciudad universitaria
feedback
feedback
retroalimentación
hall
hall
entrada
iceberg
iceberg-
input
input
aportación
jet lag
jet lag
desfase horario
OK
OKde acuerdo, vale
pub
pubbar(also a loanword!)
sheriff
sheriff
alguacil
single
single
soltero
spray
spray
aerosol
test
testprueba, cuestionario
vip
VIP-

Music and Entertainment

Many English loanwords in Spanish have to do with music and entertainment. This likely has a lot to do with the international appeal or marketing of English-language media. Let’s check out some of these loanwords!

Loanword in SpanishEnglishSpanish Alternative
blues
blues-
casting
casting-
celebrity
celebrity
famoso
country
country-
folk
folkmúsica folclórica, trova
hobby
hobby
pasatiempo
pop
pop-
punk
punk-
rap
rap-
reality show
reality show
programa de telerrealidad
reggae
reggae-
rock
rock-
swing
swing-
thriller
thrillerpelícula de suspense, novela de suspense

How to Write English Loanwords with No Spanish Alternative?

According to the Fundéu’s advice, words like jazz should be written either in italics or between quotation marks. For example:

Mi hijo quiere ser trompetista y tocar jazz.(My son wants to be a trumpet player and play jazz.)

Sports

The world of sports is another field where we see numerous loanwords from English. Here are just a few of them:

Loanword in SpanishEnglishSpanish Alternative
club
club
palo
cricket
cricket
críquet
golf
golf-
green
green-
hockey
hockey-
jogging
jogging
trote
rugby
rugby-
waterpolo
waterpolo
polo acuático

Technology

Due to the speed at which technology develops and its international scope, it’s almost inevitable that foreign loanwords for technology make their way into other languages. Spanish is no stranger to the use of English loanwords about technology! Here are a few examples of English technology-related loanwords.

Loanword in SpanishEnglishSpanish Alternative
blog
blog
bitácora electronica
Bluetooth
Bluetooth-
bot
bot-
chip
chip-
Internet
Internet-
router
router
enrutador
software
softwareprograma, aplicación
spam
spam
correo no deseado

Fashion

If you have ever picked up a Spanish fashion magazine, you’ll have realized that anglicisms are muy cool(very trendy) in the fashion world. Check out these loanwords!

Loanword in SpanishEnglishSpanish Alternative
bikini
bikini-
casual
casual
informal
catwalk
catwalk
pasarela
cool
coolgenial, a la moda
dress code
dress code
etiqueta
fitting
fitting
prueba de vestuario
jeans
jeans
vaqueros
look
look
estilo
print
print
estampado
oversize
oversized
holgado
tweed
tweed-

Business and Finance

The last field that we’ll discuss in this article is business and finance. Again, it’s likely that the international reach of this sector has brought these English loanwords into the Spanish lexicon. Let’s check out a few of the terms that have been adopted and used in Spanish:

Loanword in SpanishEnglishSpanish Alternative
cash
cash
efectivo
marketing
marketing
mercadotecnica
merchandising
merchandising
promoción comercial
sponsor
sponsor
patrocinador
spot
spot
anuncio
stock
stock
existencias

English Loanwords with a Change in Meaning

The words in this section are fun, but they can be confusing for native speakers of English who haven’t come across them before. Why? These are words that mean different things in English and in Spanish! Just like the loanwords we cited previously, these terms are pronounced using the closest sound that Spanish has to each sound in English.

Loanword in SpanishEnglishSpanish Alternative
brackets
braces
aparato
crack
whiz
genio
footing
jogging
trote
leasing
lease
arrendamiento
light
diet
dietético
miss
beauty queen or teacherreina de bellezao maestra
míster
coach
entrenador
parking
parking lot
estacionamiento
show
scene
escándalo
skate
skateboard
patineta
sport
casual
informal

If you’re a native English speaker, you might find it tough at first to pronounce these words. However, just remember to imagine you’re reading them with a Spanish accent.